Have You Been to The Opera Browser Lately?

Category: Browsers

Opera, the little browser with the little desktop market share, is making some waves. Its latest innovation is an Android app that compresses data to conserve mobile data allowances. If you aren’t entirely happy with any of the Big Three, Opera is worth looking at for your desktop or mobile browser.

What's New With Opera?

Opera Software has always been focused on being the lightest-weight, speediest, most data-parsimonious browser. As an alternative to Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox, it performs admirably. Its new Max data-compression app is a significant stride in that direction. It saves data transmission costs of all kinds of traffic, not just HTML (web page) traffic as the Opera Browser does. Instagram, Vine, Google Drive, and any other online service can benefit from Opera Max.

Opera Max uses a new compression technology called Skyfire, whose developer Opera acquired in 2013. Opera Max sets up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection between your mobile device and Opera’s servers. On the servers, your unencrypted data is compressed as much as 50 percent and returned to your phone. It is then transmitted over the cellular network in less time and at less cost.

Another money-saving feature of Opera Max is its ability to switch off cellular service when WiFi is available, using the least costly transmission method. It also lets you control other apps, restricting them to WiFi use only to save money.
Opera Browser

While Opera Max compresses all types of unencrypted data, its best performance is on video files. Another caveat is that it does not work over encrypted connections, so you won’t see any compression when using Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, banking sites, or other Web sites where SSL connections are found.

Opera Max and Friends

To avoid overloading its servers, Opera Max is currently adding users on a controlled basis. You can sign up and wait for an invitation to join the Opera Max network by downloading the app and installing it. Opera Max is free if you are willing to put up with ads, or a dollar per month for ad-free service. Like all Internet businesses that offer free content or online services, advertising is part of Opera Software’s evolving business model.

The company also owns the Mediaworks ad network that's used to deliver mobile ads on behalf of clients including BMW, Canon, Samsung, Google, Netflix, Lexus, Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Sony. Many people are not happy about Opera getting into the ad business, but Mediaworks grossed $43 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Opera also acquired the Handster app store development firm in 2013, which led to the Opera Mobile Store http://apps.opera.com/en_us/ where you can find over 200,000 apps for phones running on Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, iOS, and Java. More than 105 million users are downloading apps from the Opera Mobile Store.

A corporation’s got to eat, and Opera is an important innovator in the browser space that deserves to thrive.

For completeness, I should mention that the Chrome browser for both Android and iOS have a data compression feature baked in. By turning on the "Reduce data usage" option in Chrome mobile, one can reduce mobile data usage by 50%. This works by sending the web page requests through a Google proxy server, which does the data compression. Like the Opera Max app, only non-encrypted traffic can be compressed. To enable it in the Chrome app, tap Settings, then Bandwidth Management, then "Reduce data usage" and toggle it on or off. Note that this feature only compresses web data that flows through the Chrome browser, while Opera Max does data compression for any app on your Android phone.

Opera's desktop browser focuses on speed, standards and style. The Off-Road mode performs data compression like Opera Max does for mobile devices. Give Opera a try, and check out how it makes searching, exploring, organizing and "stashing" Web content very easy. There's no reason you can't have multiple browsers on your desktop, laptop, or mobile gadget. Even if you're happy with Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox, Opera is worth a try.

Branching out from its narrow focus on browsers seems to have been good for Opera. Its attention remains on efficient, data-conserving Internet communication, which seems like a winning strategy. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Have You Been to The Opera Browser Lately?"

Posted by:

06 Mar 2014

I just got back to computers after a dry spell when my computer was down and I built a new one. I always used Opera before and tried to down load it but had problems.I found the Comodo Dragon;as fast as Opera but with Google apps!

Posted by:

06 Mar 2014

This version appears to be for phones only. Any plans to extend it to tablets?

Posted by:

Mister K
06 Mar 2014

I used to swear by Opera but every time there is an update to Flash it breaks Opera. I miss the small footprint but chrome is just as fast in my experience.

Posted by:

06 Mar 2014

Thanks for the update on the Opera Browser. I decided to change browsers about a year ago and tested Opera. I really wanted to use it, because of the way it performed, and because of several other features. It was either buggy or didn't want to work with my setup, so I finally opted for Firefox. I'll take a look again.

Posted by:

07 Mar 2014

Opera browser? Now it's just a shell for Google Chrome, nothing else. Opera was an excellent browser until it worked with its own engine - Presto. Max technology was in this old Opera for years under name of Turbo. Around a year ago somebody decided to switch from Presto engine to Chrome engine. So now there is actually no difference between Opera and Chrome. There are some cosmetic differences, but they are not even close to functionality of old Opera ver 12. So since there is no choice now, I prefer to use the original Google Chrome. Same sh*t, less whistles and bells. Mobile division always was a bit separate, so I still use Opera browser there. Well, will see how it would survive without any differences... I have nothing against Chrome - I always consider it as a good light weighted pretty compatible browser, but Opera was a real workhorse for me. But not now. RIP Opera...

Posted by:

07 Mar 2014

Dolphin mobile browser + Dolphin Jet Pack seems best Android internet browser app combo to me. Ever try them, Bob?


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